Costco Beef - Prices (Aug 2022) + Best Value & Top Tips
Costco is the retailer that is known for the highest overall quality of meat & seafood. Their beef options are exceptional, and their prices are fantastic!
This Costco Beef Guide will cover everything you need to know about their beef including:
- USDA Grades
- Top Cuts
- All Beef Prices
- Picking the Best Costco Beef
- Storing and Freezing Beef
- Costco Business Center Beef Options
- Halal Beef Options
- Mechanically Tenderized Beef
What is the USDA?
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers the grading of 100% of the beef sold in Costco. This is a voluntary process where processing plants will pay for an inspector to come out and grade their beef.
There are 8 grades in total, with Prime being the highest, then choice, and then select. After Select, there is Standard and Commercial grade.
And finally, the last 3 grades are utility, cutter, and canning grades.
Beef is graded on its tenderness, juiciness, and flavor. As consumers, we can visually see the grades through the amount of marbling that the steak has.
Prime graded beef will always have the most amount of marbling and produce the most tender and juicy eating experiences. Many hotels, steakhouses, and restaurants will purchase and serve Prime quality beef.
Purchasing a Prime cut will allow you to cook a restaurant quality steak at home. I generally reserve these steaks for a special occasion or get together.
Choice is a step below prime but will still produce a delicious and juicy meal. The majority of Costco beef will be Choice grade. The meat will still be very tender and this is a great option for everyday meals.
There still may be a good amount of marbling in USDA Choice beef and overall will be a high quality beef.
With a good eye, you can pick out cuts that barely missed the USDA Prime designation, securing “high choice” or near prime beef for the lower price of Choice graded beef.
Pro Tip: At Costco, beef in a white tray carton will usually be USDA Choice beef, and beef in the blue carton will usually be Prime grade.
Prime Grade Beef does appear in the white carton every once in a while.
Popular Costco Cuts
What It Is
Found in steakhouses all across the country as well in the hands of backyard grillmasters, the Ribeye is a Costco classic and deserves to be mentioned first in our Costco beef guide.
The ribeye comes from the beef rib primal cut and is known for its distinctive beef flavor that comes from its high degree of marbling.
While priced on the higher end, a prime ribeye contains an abundance of milky white fat that will melt into the meat, creating one of the juiciest, buttery, and tender pieces of beef.
How to Cook
The best way to cook the rib eye is with high heat, either on a cast iron skillet or on the grill.
While rare, you may be able to find the ribeye cap at Costco! The cap is the most tender piece of the rib roast and is often priced the same as the ribeye.
The ribeye cap may change the way you think about steak.
Pro Tip: Ask the butchers if they can cut you the ribeye cap. You will not regret it.
New York Strip Steak
What It Is
A steak of many names, most notably known as a New York Strip or a Kansas City Strip, it is considered a great all-around steak.
It comes from the strip loin portion of the cow and in particular, the longissimus muscle which is a rarely used muscle in the cow, leading to a tender and flavorful piece of meat.
How to Cook
The New York Strip is my go-to cut that provides the most value and flavor. Arguably, one of the best steaks for the grill and is very easy to cook due to its uniform thickness and marbling.
These are best cooked on high heat, either on a grill or a skillet. These are also great in sous vide!
What It Is
Regarded as the most tender cut of beef as well as one of the most expensive, the beef tenderloin lives up to its name.
The tenderloin comes from the psoas major muscle which is not often used in cows and results in a very tender piece of meat.
A Major notable difference between the tenderloin and some of the other high-end cuts of meat will be its lack of marbling. The tenderloin is very lean but still full of flavor and will absolutely melt in your mouth.
Also does great at soaking up marinades!
How to Buy Beef Tenderloin from Costco
Whole beef tenderloin can be found “unpeeled” or untrimmed in the beef section, but oftentimes will need to be requested from the butcher.
The price savings for an unpeeled portion can be 30% or more but will require some at-home butchering.
If you want a tenderloin piece that is already processed and ready to be cooked, Costco sells “Peeled Extreme” Tenderloin.
This is a piece of tenderloin that has the fat, connective tissue, and silver skin already removed. All you have to do is take the meat home and cook a delicious meal.
Costco Filet Mignon
What It Is
Filet Mignon is a steak cut from the ever so tender beef tenderloin. Filet mignon is often regarded as some of the most tender and most desirable cuts of Beef.
Costco sells their USDA Prime filet mignon for $20.99.
Cut From The Tenderloin
Because it’s directly cut from the tenderloin, filet mignon will share the same characteristics of being lean with little marbling, but extra tender and flavorful.
Costco’s Filet Mignon steaks are typically one and a half to two inches thick, but because the filet mignon doesn’t include much intramuscular fat, it is imperative to not overcook the beef as it could cause it to dry out.
Filet Mignon is best served medium rare.
How to Cook
For being such a prized cut of beef, Filet Mignon is fairly versatile in the ways it can be cooked.
The end goal is always to shoot for medium rare but that can be achieved on the grill, in the oven, on a skillet, and definitely with a sous vide.
If you can keep the internal temperatures in check, your filet mignon will turn out beautifully.
What It Is
With rising beef prices across the nation, chuck roasts are quickly becoming my new favorite cut. Coming from the shoulder region of the cow, a chuck roast is very tough but is marbled with fat and connective tissues.
How to Cook
Due to the nature of the meat, it’s best when braised and mostly known as the best cut of meat for a pot roast. When cooked low and slow, a chuck roast will be fork tender, melt in your mouth, and extremely delicious.
A chuck roast isn’t going to be a type of cut that you are going to want to grill and instead is best in the crockpot, instant pot, or oven.
Costco Business Center - Chuck Rolls
If you are up for an adventure, I would recommend the chuck rolls sold at Costco Business Centers.
You will have to break down the meat yourself, but you will end up with a variety of cuts including chuck roasts, chuck eye steaks ( aka the poor man’s ribeye), boneless ribs, and Denver steaks. Chuck rolls at the Costco Business Center go for about $4.50 a pound.
Check out this video on how to break down a chuck roll
What It Is?
Sirloin is probably one of the more well known steak names, but what exactly is the Sirloin? The sirloin refers to a subprimal cut that is near the rear of the cow.
The sirloin is usually broken down into two cuts, the top sirloin and the bottom sirloin.
The Top Sirloin
The Top Sirloin is typically regarded as the higher quality cut of sirloin. Top sirloin doesn’t have much marbling, but is still extremely tender. They make for great grilling steaks.
Top Sirloin can be sold with the “Cap” On or Off. With beef, the cap refers to a large thick piece of fat that resides on top of the steak. Costco sells both the Cap Off steaks as well as the Cap On Roast (Picanha)
What It Is
Picanha is a cut that has gained significant popularity in recent years and is known for being the most prized cut in Brazilian steakhouses. Costco sells Picanha which is a Top Sirloin Roast with Cap On.
Picanha is easy to cook and provides a ton of flavor, all while being reasonably priced. Costco sells their Picanha for $6.99 a pound.
How To Cook
Picanha is usually served as steaks and can be cut before or after the cooking process.
Brazilian steakhouses cut, skewer, and grill the picanha for maximum flavor, but there are many different ways to cook picanha or cap on top sirloin. Picanha can be grilled, smoked, sous vide, oven baked, and even pan seared.
What It Is
The Tri-Tip, a classic California steak, is available at Costco for $7.49 a pound for Choice grade and $10.99 a pound for Prime. Tri-Tip Steak is a triangular cut of beef that comes from the sirloin region of the cow.
Costco’s tri tip has a rich and meaty flavor and is extremely tender if cooked properly.
How To Cook
Tri-Tips can take on a lot of seasoning and can be cooked multiple ways including, grilling, smoking, baking or roasting. For me, there’s just something about grilling tri-tips that screams summertime. Its a great piece of steak to grill, serve, and slice for backyard bbqs.
Pro Tip: Always make sure to be slicing against the grain with Tri-Tip. It can be tricky.
Short Ribs are an extremely flavorful cut of beef and one of my favorites from Costco. They have a ton of meat on them and can either be served English Cut or Flanken.
English cut short ribs are fantastic when braised as that creates a very tender and juicy piece of meat.
Flanken Cut short ribs are cut against the bone and usually cut to 1/2 inch thick or so. Each piece will usually have 3 or 4 pieces of bone surrounded by tender short rib meat.
Flanken short ribs are best used to make Korean BBQ Galbi.
Flanken Cut Short Ribs marinate and absorb flavors very well, and are best when cooked with high heat.
Here is a great DIY marinade to make your own Korean Galbi.
Beef Back Ribs
What It Is
Costco Beef Back Ribs are what most people think of when they think of traditional ribs. The beef ribs look very much similar to pork ribs except they are a little larger in size.
Beef back ribs are located near where prime rib and ribeye are cut from which is both a positive and a negative.
The positive is that the beef ribs can be super tender if cooked properly but can also be lacking in meat because the other more expensive cuts will be prioritized.
Coming in at just $4.29 per pound at Costco, beef ribs offer exceptional taste and flavor at a very fair price.
How To Cook
Beef Back Ribs are going to be best when smoked, but also delicious when grilled, baked, or pressure cooked.
Costco Brisket - Pricing
Costco Brisket Price
One of the best deals might be Costco’s Prime Beef Brisket that sells for $3.99/pound. This price fluctuates throughout the year, but typically hangs out around the $3.99 range and will occasionally fall to as low as $2.99 during the fall.
The Prime grade brisket is sold whole and comes in 10-15 pound packages. The average purchase price for a brisket runs about $40-$60 depending on size.
What It Is
A whole brisket consists of the flat and the point portion. The flat is the learner portion of the brisket while the point is considerably fattier. Costco mostly sells the whole prime packer style briskets but will every now and then sell flat cuts as well.
By being sold whole, the prime beef brisket from Costco is usually considerably cheaper than grocery store’s choice grade brisket.
How to Cook
Briskets are known as the quintessential barbecuing food due to their large amount of connective tissues that break down into tender and delicious bites when cooked low and slow.
Briskets can take up to 15 hours to cook when slow-smoked at 225°-250°F, but they are oh so worth it.
Tomahawk Steak (Ribeye)
What It Is
Without a doubt one of the most impressive looking steaks that Costco carries is the Tomahawk steak.
Due to its intense marbling and long bone handle, the Tomahawk steak is a fun and unique cut.
While they aren’t offered regularly, when Costco does sell them they do sell out quickly.
Very likely if you see tomahawk steaks on one Costco trip, you won’t see it on the next one.
How to Cook It
Tomahawk Steaks are best served medium rare and can be cooked in a variety of ways. For a big steak like this, I used a sous vide at 137° to get a perfectly pink interior.
The steak can also be cooked on a grill, on a cast iron skillet, or even in an oven.
Is a Tomahawk Steak Worth it?
A tomahawk steak is essentially a very large bone-in ribeye, but for such a fancy cut, Costco’s price is more than reasonable at $14.99/pound for prime grade Tomahawk steak.
Just one thing to keep in mind is that you are paying for the bone. If the presentation isn’t important to, go with Costco’s ribeye for the same price per pound.
Wagyu Beef at Costco
Costco does occasionally sell Wagyu beef in the meat and seafood department, but lately I’ve only seen frozen wagyu beef at Costco.
The Costco Grade A5 Wagyu Beef New York Strip is imported from Japan, costs $99.99/lb, and is grain fed with no added hormones. A Grade of A5 is the highest grade of Japanese wagyu.
The package of New York Strip Wagyu Beef is typically sold in ~1.5-2 pound packages and will cost between $150-$200 in total. While a hefty price for a piece of steak, Wagyu beef is considered some of the best in the world.
Known for its marbling, Costco’s wagyu beef boast an abundant amount of intramuscular fat which is what packs in the flavor and keeps the beef super tender.
How to Cook Wagyu Beef
Wagyu beef is best cooked rare to medium rare, and it’s imperative to not overcook the steak. Overcooking wagyu can lead to the fat melting and the flavor dissipating.
Wagyu beef simply takes just a few minutes on a hot skillet for each side.
$3.99/lb – Fresh Ground Beef
$4.97/lb – Organic Ground Beef
Costco Ground Beef Options
Costco has a few different ground beef options throughout the warehouse. In their meat and seafood department they sell fresh ground beef (88% lean and 12% fat) for $3.99/pound, as well as organic ground beef (85/15) for $4.97/lb.
Costco’s fresh ground beef is sold in approximately ~7 pound packages while the organic ground beef is sold in 4 pound packages for $19.89.
Frozen Ground Beef
Costco also offers 5 individually wrapped one pound chubs of frozen ground beef in the frozen food aisles.
The frozen ground beef is 91% lean and 9% fat and goes for $21.99 or $4.39 per pound. This is an excellent price for lean ground beef!
Using Ground Beef
Of course ground beef can be used in a variety of ways including as meatballs, hamburgers, meatloaf, and many more.
My one issue with Costco’s ground beef selection is that they don’t offer a 80% lean 20% fat variety, which is the consensus choice for the best ground beef to make juicy flavorful hamburgers.
All Costco Beef Prices - Aug 2022
|USDA Choice Beef||Price|
|Tenderloin Steak (Filet Mignon)||$15.99|
|New York Strip||$9.99|
|Ground Beef 88% Lean||$3.99|
|Eye Round Roast||$4.69|
|Beef Loin Tip Steak (Flap Meat)||$10.99|
|USDA Prime Beef||Price|
|Tenderloin Steak (Filet Mignon)||$20.99|
|New York Strip Steak||$14.99|
Picking out the best steak
Costco's Sets the Standard High
At Costco, you can be certain that the quality of beef is going to meet a minimum level of standard that is higher than what you find at your typical grocery store.
Most grocers offer USDA Select beef with USDA Choice being the higher end option that they carry. Costco’s minimum grade is USDA Choice with USDA Prime being the higher end option.
Great Prices and Quality
Costco’s prices are on par or even slightly more at times, but the quality and freshness of the beef will be unmatched compared to your local grocer.
While you can’t really go wrong with any steak that you pick out from Costco, I do have some tips for you to pick out the best of the best steaks.
Look for Marbling
The lowest graded beef at Costco is going to be USDA choice, but we can still be selective when it comes to picking out steaks. The first thing we are going to want to look for is marbling.
We want to see as much of the milky white fat inside the meat as possible. Fat is flavor and when cooked the marbling will melt into the beef improving its juiciness, tenderness, and texture. For most steaks we are going to look for as much marbling as possible.
Note: Marbling differs from typical intramuscular meat fat that can run through the steak or that which sits outside the steak.
Light Cherry Pink Color
The second criteria used to select steak will be its color. The ideal steak will be uniform in color and have a light cherry pink hue.
If it’s too dark of a red or brown in color, we should avoid those pieces if we can.
When steak starts to have a brown color, that indicates that the steak has been exposed to oxygen for too long. While still safe to eat, we are always looking to buy the most fresh meats.
Picking a Juicy Costco Steak
Finally the steak should look like it has a touch of moisture. We want to see that “just right” moisture.
We don’t want the steak to be too dry nor do we want the steak to appear wet or sticky or slimy.
Freezing Steak - Mid Term Storage
How to Prepare Steak for the Freezer
Regardless if you are just buying some steaks for dinner or a full subprimal cut, it’s typical to cook some, and then freeze the rest.
To properly freeze beef, you are going to want to wrap it in saran wrap as tightly as possible.
This will reduce contact with air and preserve freshness. After wrapping it with saran wrap, you can store the beef in a ziploc bag.
Be sure to remove as much air from the bag as possible and make sure to label and date the bag.
Different Beef Options than Regular Costcos
The business center is an entirely different beast when it comes to the meat section at Costco. At the business center you are going to find more subprimal cuts rather than individual steaks.
This is a great way to pick up cuts that you may not be totally familiar with and can allow you to explore and get to know new pieces of beef.
Big Discounts at the Business Center
My first experience with a subprimal cut came from a clearance on a whole top loin.
Generally I would just walk right on past the larger cuts without a second glance, thinking I didn’t have the knowledge nor could I possibly utilize that much meat.
In this case, they had the whole top loin on clearance at the entrance of the business center instead of all the way in the back with the rest of the meat. This was out of place and it really drew my attention.
The packaging said Whole New York on it and with a little in store research, I realized this was a significant discount on New York Strip Steaks. All I had to do with this piece of beef was to slice it into steak portions.
Breaking Down Meat is a Great Skill to Learn
I picked up a USDA choice top loin whole for $4.97/lb, which was about half off at the time. Definitely a great beginner introduction to subprimal cuts as I simply had to slice the piece into 1.5” steaks.
I ended up getting about 13 New York steaks for about $4 a piece.
From there, my eyes were opened to the beauty of subprimal cuts available at the business center. I pick one up whenever I have freezer space, and it’s a great experience to learn how to break down my own meat.
Business Center Costco's Will Have Lower Quality Beef
One important thing to note is that the quality of the meat at the Costco business center will range from Select to Prime, while at retail Costco’s the meat ranges from Choice to Prime.
Costco Halal Beef
What is Halal Beef?
Halal is the Arabic word for “permissible” and refers to certain guidelines that must be followed when slaughtering an animal.
These guidelines are strict and pertain to the ethical treatment of the animal as well as religious practices.
Costco Business Center Has Halal Options
Halal meat or beef isn’t offered regularly at traditional Costco warehouses, but is available at Costco Business Centers. If your regular Costco carries duck, it may be halal duck, but other than that, most Costco’s do not carry halal products.
Costco business centers on the other hand will carry a limited amount of halal products; some halal items that I have seen in the past are ground beef, a variety of beef cuts, lamb, and goat.
Costco Steaks are Blade Tenderized
One of the major controversies surrounding Costco’s beef is the fact that they blade tenderize their steaks.
What this means is that each piece of cut steak that Costco sells, goes through a process where it is pierced with tiny blades or needles to tenderize the beef by breaking up connective tissue and muscle fibers.
It sounds great in theory, and does in fact make the meat more tender, but it does come with a alleged drawback.
Dangers of Mechanically Tenderized Beef from Costco
Mechanically or blade tenderized beef could lead to some dangers concerning E. Coli. The blade tenderizing process can transfer E Coli that is found on the surface of the meat to deep within the center of the meat.
This means in order to fully ensure that your piece of beef is safe to eat, you will have to cook it to an internal temperature of 160° as recommended on the Costco package.
Most people including us here at Costco FDB, prefer beef at medium rare which is 130°. By only cooking to medium rare, we are not fully killing any potential bacteria that could be in the meat.
Risks are Low!
But don’t let me dissuade you from purchasing beef at Costco. With an estimated 2.7 billion pounds of meat or 10% of beef consumed in America being mechanically tenderized, the chances of contracting E. Coli are astronomically low, but the warning must be put out there when it comes to Costco beef.
Normally, we understand that certain foods will always have bacteria risk, and this wouldn’t be an issue of concern to us here at CFDB, but Costco themselves does have the warning on their label. So we do think it’s fair to mention in this guide.
No WideSpread E Coli Outbreaks from Costco Beefw
I have done a little bit of research on E Coli outbreaks over the years, and I couldn’t find anything that particularly was traced to steaks or blade tenderized beef.
Most of the outbreaks that I found were concerning lettuce or spinach and if they did involve beef, then it was ground beef. Costco does not mechanically tenderize their ground beef.
So while there are reports out there that blade tenderized beef can lead to E coli. It doesn’t appear to be widespread in any way. Source
Sous Vide Kills Bacteria and Creates Perfect Steaks
One alternative if you want to play it extra safe, would be to sous vide your Costco beef.
Typically when we cook steaks on the grill or in the cast iron pan, we stop the cooking process when the desired internal temperature is reached. This means that a piece of steak may only be at a specific temperature for a few minutes.
Now with a sous vide, we can keep our beef at a certain temperature for a prolonged period of time without compromising the deliciousness of the meal. If our desired temperature is medium rare at 130°, we can set our sous vide to cook at that temperature for 90 minutes or even longer.
By keeping the cooking process going for an extended time we can kill bacteria at a lower temperature. Take a look at the chart below sourced from AmazingFoodMadeEasy.com
|Temperature||Cook Time Needed to Kill Salmonella|
|130° F||86.42 Minutes|
|135° F||27.33 Minutes|
|140° F||8.64 Minutes|
|145° F||2.73 Minutes|
|150° F||51.85 Minutes|
|160° F||5.19 Seconds|
|165° F||1.64 Seconds|
As you can see, it only takes a few seconds to kill any bacteria at the Costco recommended 160°. It will take 86 minutes + to kill bacteria at 130°, but will allow us to also get perfectly safe and perfectly cooked medium rare beef.
While there may be a risk of E coli with mechanically tenderized Costco beef, the chances of any outbreak are extremely small. If still concerning, you will have options with to sous vide to safely cook your beef.